Microsoft sells 1,500 patents to Chinese mega-phone biz Xiaomi

Biggest smartphone vendor in China eyes global domination

The Mi 5 has a small screen bevel, making good use of space but giving less to grip

Xiaomi has agreed to buy 1,500 patents from Microsoft in a move that has been framed as an "expansion of their global partnership".

Under the deal, Xiaomi will ship Microsoft Office and Skype on its Android smartphones and tablets. Yes, you read that right.

The terms of the deal remain undisclosed and it is unclear to what extent Microsoft may have put pressure on the Chinese vendor.

Since Satya Nadella took the helm of the business, Microsoft has ostensibly backed off pursuing makers of Linux devices over patent violation..

Xiang Wang, senior vice president at Xiaomi, said: “We are excited to be working closely with Microsoft on a broad technology collaboration partnership."

He added: “As demonstrated by this agreement with Microsoft, Xiaomi is looking to build sustainable, long-term partnerships with global technology leaders, with the ultimate goal of bringing the best user experience to our Mi fans.”

Xiaomi is one of the fastest-growing smartphone manufacturers in the world. Founded only six years ago, it shipped 15 million units in the first quarter of this year according to Gartner. However, many of its sales have been transacted in the Chinese market, where it is currently the biggest vendor.

As for Microsoft, it's fair to say its presence in the smartphone market at best remains negligible.

Beginning in September 2016, Xiaomi Android devices, including Mi 5, Mi Max, Mi 4s, Redmi Note 3 and Redmi 3, will come pre-installed with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Skype applications. Specific offerings may vary by device, market and mobile operator.

Microsoft said: "This agreement builds on the companies’ partnership with Windows 10 on Mi Pad and Microsoft Azure powering the Mi Cloud service. Partnerships with companies such as Xiaomi are central to Microsoft’s strategy to work with industry leaders around the world to meet the needs of joint customers." ®

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